Charlie Kolar was impressed with the play of Brock Purdy against TCU.
Tommy Birch, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, Ia. — Memo to Iowa State football fans clamoring for more Re-al Mitchell:
You’re getting your way.
More Mitchell happened during Saturday’s 49-24 victory against TCU at Jack Trice Stadium, and the More Mitchell Movement likely will continue during next Saturday’s 3 p.m. game at West Virginia.
If you’re one of Matt Campbell’s best players, by golly he’ll find a place for you — even if your primary position already is owned by one of the Big 12 Conference’s top players.
Mitchell isn’t pushing Brock Purdy out the door. No way. No one’s doing that, but as we’ve seen, there’s still a place for a speedy and versatile all-around player who doesn’t cause problems.
Saturday, offensive coordinator Tom Manning used the redshirt freshman as a receiver. He used him behind center. Now you see him, now you don’t.
Re-al Mitchell a running back? Probably not
If you’re good enough, you’re going to play — and I’ve even wondered if Mitchell would ever find himself involved in the running back tryout. That’s likely not happening now, though, considering Johnnie Lang is separating from the other four.
The sophomore’s 72-yard day Saturday pretty much solidifies that he’s No. 1, and everyone else is a distant No. 2, but back to Mitchell and what he can bring the 3-2 team during the next seven regular-season games.
“We’re trying to find unique ways to get him on the field,” Campbell said late Saturday afternoon. “We’re in a unique predicament, because he’s also the backup quarterback, and he’s a guy that we feel really confident about in his quarterback ability.”
He’s got to be involved somewhere, and Campbell knows it.
“As we’ve seen, he can make a difference in a big-time way when he gets out there and uses his speed and athleticism,” the coach said. “We’ll just have to continue to try to find ways to use him. He can block, he can catch, and he can run, so those are all things that we’ll use and continue to try to use to help us be the best us we can be.”
Saturday, Mitchell caught a three-yard screen pass. He was a quarterback and Purdy a receiver on a play that resulted in a Mitchell nine-yard rush. And just think:
What if Mitchell would have dropped back to pass? What it he’d have thrown to Purdy? What if Purdy would have caught the ball?
Receptions by 10 different receivers in the same game
What happens, is that Iowa State would have had 11 different receivers catch passes in the same game — and I really doubt that’s ever happened at the school.
Purdy’s 19 completions went to Deshaunte Jones, Landen Akers, Tarique Milton, Charlie Kolar, Lang, Kene Nwangwu, Darren Wilson, Joe Scates, Chase Allen and Mitchell. It’s been two seasons since 10 Cyclones receivers caught passes in one game. It’s also the follow-through of a vow Purdy made during the spring.
“That’s a pretty good fantasy day,” Kolar said about Purdy’s spreading around the receiving wealth. “I wish I could draft somebody like him; I’m pretty terrible right now.”
Purdy threw 32.3 percent of his 220 passes Hakeem Butler’s way last season. Butler snagged 26.7 percent of the rookie’s 146 completions. Both are eye-opening statistics.
“We’re utilizing everybody, not just the (wide-out) position,” Purdy said in August. “Tight ends, running backs out of the backfield — we’re using everybody now.”
Allen caught his first career touchdown pass Saturday. Scates and Mitchell had their first career receptions.
“Every single snap, it’s not like I’m going to throw to this one certain guy,” Purdy said after Saturday’s game. “I trust the progression, and then the receiver that’s in the game is going to get the ball. It’s just nice knowing that everybody — our first, second and third string — we’re all able to get in the game and then boom, make plays.
“I know they’re going to be there, because we rep it all the time at practice. When it comes down to game time, they’re there, and it’s nice as a quarterback to believe and trust in them that they’re going to be there.”
Like Allen being alone in the back of the end zone. Like Jones, who turned 10 mid-range passes into 110 yards. Like Mitchell — the do-it-all who must be on the field as much as possible.
“Our job as coaches is finding unique ways for him to make a difference in a football game,” Campbell said. “Re-al is an elite athlete.”
A real good elite athlete.
Randy Peterson is the Iowa State columnist for the Register. Reach him at email@example.com, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete. No one covers the Cyclones like the Register. Subscribe today at Des Moines Register.com/Deal to make sure you never miss a moment.
Source: Des Moines Register